CCB’s function as a rural community development charity means that much of our work is about developing and maintaining connections within communities. This community development principle is central to the theme of loneliness and isolation.
Plenty of research exists into the causes of loneliness and ways of reducing its impact. We know that people of all ages can feel lonely at times, even when surrounded by people. This is a priority issue for Government, and large sections of the voluntary sector are, and always have been, working to support people of all ages impacted by loneliness.
We have seen research that suggests certain characteristics of communities that can increase or decrease the likelihood of loneliness. This is something we are interested in testing out. We are looking at this research and the statistical data behind it. We are developing an understanding of the indicators that, in combination, might suggest higher or lower levels of loneliness than elsewhere.
CCB is currently working on a project focusing on loneliness and isolation in rural communities, using grant funding from the Dunhill Medical Trust and a generous donation from Redwood Technologies via the Berkshire Community Foundation. The project involves some mapping work in rural Berkshire to compare the areas where this data suggests differences in the likelihood of people feeling lonely, and will work with these communities to understand if people’s experiences match what the data suggests.
We are also looking at the kinds of activities, groups and opportunities for social interaction that are particularly effective at reducing the risk of loneliness, and will provide advice and guidance to any community interested in broadening the range of social activities available to people there. However, first and foremost we want to maximize the impact of the wide range of activities, services and support that already exist. Publicity and referral can ensure widespread awareness of what already takes place and helps to avoid duplicated effort and wasted resources.
The three principles behind our work on the theme of loneliness and isolation are as follows.
1. Ensure the sustainability of existing provision through appropriate referral and publicity activities
2. Support communities that are interested in better understanding existing demand, current provision and unmet need
3. When faced with the opportunity to set up something new, be creative and seek inspiration from other communities near and far
These principles will be set out at the forthcoming Loneliness and Isolation Conference being hosted by Richard Benyon MP in Newbury on the 8th February. We would like to encourage others to follow these principles. We also want to offer support to any rural community interested in exploring this topic and are always open to speaking with organisations from all sectors interested in working with us.